Interviews can be nerve-wracking. There are so many questions that come up whenever you are invited to come in for a first or subsequent interview. While second and third-round interviews might feel more comfortable after that initial office visit, first-round interviews can often pose a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to the company dress code.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and your appearance is a crucial component of that. According to Classes and Careers, when meeting new people, the way you dress, act, and walk through the door make up 55 percent of the impact of that first impression. Also, 65 percent of bosses said clothes could be the deciding factor between two candidates with similar backgrounds and skills.
How do you make sure that your appearance matches and complements your solid résumé and skill set instead of undermining them? Read on for some tips on how to prepare for your interview in style.
1. Do your research
Along with your research on the company and the team you are interviewing for, do your research on their work culture and dress code. The Internet and social media platforms are great places to look for this information. You can tap into your network as well and ask any acquaintances who work there or have worked there in the past. Smaller businesses and less established companies may pose more of a challenge in uncovering this information. In that case, keep on reading.
2. Exceed expectations
If you’re unable to find information about a company’s culture, a general rule of thumb is to dress one level above what your potential co-workers wear on any given day at the office, according to CareerBuilder. It is never a good idea to wear jeans, no matter how casual the company might be. If you dress one level above, you show the company that you take them and yourself seriously and with respect.
3. Neatness is key
It’s a no-brainer that no matter what you end up wearing, it has to be neat, wrinkle-free, and pretty much look like you just picked it up from the dry cleaners that morning. A clothes iron and a lint roller can go a long way when preparing for the interview. You should also check for holes or spots that can easily ruin the most well-planned outfit — or worse, cause the hiring manager to get distracted.
4. Time management
It’s best to do all of the above the night before an interview and consider every detail. Preparing ahead will help you avoid running into a frenzy of anxiety the next morning looking for things. If you know yourself to be clumsy, it could be smart to prepare your “plan B” outfit, even if only in your head. If anything is going to ruin your first impression, it’s being late for 30 minutes because you spilled coffee on yourself or didn’t have time to find something suitable to wear.
5. Stick to simplicity and classics
A job interview is just that — a job interview. There is no point in making New York Fashion Week out of it. For many employers, bright colors are a turn-off. But that doesn’t mean that your outfit has to be bland; it is possible to create a look in a neutral palette that will still showcase your personal style. How creative you can get with dressing for your job interview really depends on the company and the field you are interviewing for. As Aimee Song, blogger and influencer behind Song of Style, shared in a podcast interview with Second Life, she landed one of her first jobs at San Francisco Design Center because she wore an outfit that stood out among other applicants who came to an interview in dark skinny jeans and black blazers. Yet, there is, of course, a difference between interviewing for a design firm and a law firm, and it’s important to be mindful of that difference.
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